Postgraduate study

Architecture by Design

Awards: PhD

Study modes: Full-time, Part-time

Funding available

Programme website: Architecture by Design

The Architecture by Design PhD offers you the opportunity to pursue design-led research at the highest level. The words ‘by design’ refer to your mode of research, mode of practice and mode of exegesis. Therefore, it is important to understand how your ‘by design’ method informs and directs a thesis over a particular research duration, and how the development of your ‘by design’ methodology is not only an important aspect of the thetic process, but also important to how your thesis is finally presented.

This PhD can be pursued through many lines and techniques of architectural inquiry, spanning design, buildings, technology, history, sustainability, conservation, theory, criticism, city, visuality, communication, philosophy, politics, environment, landscape, information technology and digital media.

Your output must contain original works such as designs, built work, drawings, models, photographs, video, sculptures, installations or websites and include documentation of the processes by which the work was produced.

Your research culminates in a professionally presented text of not more than 50,000 words and a comprehensive record of the exhibited material (images, drawings, photographs) contained in a coherent and archivable format (bound thesis and/or CD/DVD).

To complement your academic supervision, you will have the opportunity to participate in a range of lectures and workshops, contributing to the development of specific, transferable and professional skills. You may also be offered the opportunity to contribute to teaching within ESALA. If so, you will be offered support and training to help develop your teaching skills more effectively.

Our full facilities will be available to you, including extensive digital and specific material workshops. You will have the opportunity to contribute to our healthy design presentation culture, print and e-publication output, international debate across a range of design-related fields and the organisation of symposia and conferences.

Normally a UK masters degree or its international equivalent.

You must submit a portfolio as part of your application.

If you do not meet the academic entry requirements, we may still consider your application on the basis of your portfolio and/or relevant professional experience.

International qualifications

Check whether your international qualifications meet our general entry requirements:

English language requirements

All applicants must have one of the following qualifications as evidence of their English language ability:

  • an undergraduate or masters degree, that was taught and assessed in English in a majority English speaking country as defined by UK Visas and Immigration

  • IELTS: total 7.0 (at least 6.0 in each module)
  • TOEFL-iBT: total 100 (at least 20 in each module)
  • PTE(A): total 67 (at least 56 in each of the "Communicative Skills" sections)
  • CAE and CPE: total 185 (at least 169 in each module)
  • Trinity ISE: ISE III with a pass in all four components

Degrees taught and assessed in English must be no more than three years old at the beginning of your degree programme. Language tests must be no more than two years old at the beginning of your degree programme.

Find out more about our language requirements:

  • Edinburgh College of Art Postgraduate Office
  • The University of Edinburgh
  • Evolution House, Grassmarket
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH1 2LE

We encourage you to apply at least one month prior to entry so that we have enough time to process your application. If you are also applying for funding or will require a visa then we strongly recommend you apply as early as possible. We may consider late applications if we have places available, but you should contact the relevant Admissions Office for advice first.

You must submit two references with your application.

You should submit a research proposal that outlines your project's aims, context, process and product/outcome. Read the application guidance before you apply:

You must submit a portfolio as part of your application. You won't be able to submit your portfolio immediately, but you'll receive an email prompt within a few days of submitting your application that will explain how to upload your portfolio. You may provide a link to a website in addition to, but not instead of, your portfolio, if you wish.

Find out more about the general application process for postgraduate programmes:

Further information

  • Edinburgh College of Art Postgraduate Office
  • The University of Edinburgh
  • Evolution House, Grassmarket
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH1 2LE